There was a lot of press on memorials and remembrance over this November 11 weekend — among it a mini-tour of unusual war memorials I wrote for Saturday’s Globe Toronto section.
One thing I discovered doing research for the story didn’t fit in with the theme of that piece but still seemed like it would be of interest to others: namely, that Queen’s Park’s newest monument, the 2006-installed Veterans’ Memorial, lists among its honorees those killed in â€œThe Campaign Against Terror.â€
Though I have respect for all those Canadians that gave their lives in the name of someone else’s getting better, this wording struck me as peculiar. I didn’t know that the â€œCampaign Against Terrorâ€ was considered such an official military operation by the Ontario Government, worthy of listing along with historically recognized conflicts like World War I and II.
Expansion of the idea of sacrifice and conflict is actually one of the worthy goals of this monument. For example, it attempts to atone for past memorial errors that excluded Aboriginal and women soldiers and civilians from recognition by mentioning them specifically. It lists losses from both â€œWarsâ€ and â€œPeace Missionsâ€ as being worthy of honouring. It also recognizes veterans of the Korean War, who do not have a Toronto memorial to call their own.
So essentially, with its photographic-seeming facade offering a pastiche of images from different wars, peace missions and eras, this monument’s designed as a kind of catchall for military losses past (from the Fenian Raids onward) and future (there’s plenty of space left for engraving under both the â€œWars and Alliancesâ€ and â€œMajor Peace Missionsâ€ lists).
But I think engraving â€œThe Campaign Against Terrorâ€ as an official Canadian â€œwarâ€ worth honouring is a bit too far of an expansion for me. (FYI the Iraqi war and the Afghanistan conflict are already listed separately.) It’s a perfect example of how public monuments define what is honourable historically, as well as how that official story might conflict with the views of citizens.
What do you think? Do you condone a Toronto memorial honouring â€œThe Campaign Against Terrorâ€?
Photo of the Veterans Memorial from Canadian Army.